Saskatchewan Rush President Lee Genier has made the difficult decision to leave the team to support his family.
Genier told 650 CKOM in an interview Tuesday he’ll be moving back to Calgary to be with his brother, who is fighting a rare form of throat cancer.
“Running a sports team is no small task,” he said. “And trying to deal with someone that you love very much, that is that close to you, and not be with them has been incredibly tough.”
He said his brother has been fighting the diagnosis for a year, and it’s been increasingly difficult.
“He’s very happy I’m going to be by his side,” Genier said. “It’s a battle every day physically and emotionally.”
Genier made the announcement on his personal Twitter account just before 11 a.m. on Feb. 14. The post received an outpouring of support from his followers and fans.
“I’m definitely feeling the love from everyone in Saskatchewan and beyond,” he said.
It saddens me to tell everyone that I have parted ways with the Rush. I want to thank everyone that has made this such an amazing experience
— Lee Genier (@LeeGenier) February 14, 2017
Genier was appointed president in July 2015, shortly after the Rush completed their last season in Edmonton. Before that, he worked with the Calgary Stampeders for 18 years and as a vice president for Bobsleigh Canada.
He oversaw the move to Saskatoon and the inaugural season, which netted him a championship ring. Genier said he’s made long-standing connections here and will miss the city.
“People have become family here to me,” he said. “We’ve built a legacy here that I hope will stand for many years.”
Genier is also receiving support from the Rush organization.
“Lee’s passion and leadership over the past year has been instrumental in the successful launch of the Rush in Saskatchewan,” Rush owner Bruce Urban said in a statement Tuesday.
“We will continue to rally around him as he steps aside to focus on his family.”
The team announced plans to hold a fundraiser for the Genier family later in the season.